Daily Archives: March 2, 2024

2 March 1978

Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief (converted to F-105G Wild Weasel III) 63-8321, 561st TFS, 35th TFW, at George AFB, Victorville, California. (Image from Michael Klaver Collection at www.thexhunters.com)
Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief (converted to F-105G Wild Weasel III) 63-8321, 561st TFS, 35th TFW, at George AFB, Victorville, California. (Image from Michael Klaver Collection at www.thexhunters.com)

2 March 1978: Major Charles Thomas Fulop and First Lieutenant William A. Stone departed George Air Force Base, Victorville, California, in a Republic F-105G Thunderchief, 63-8321, call sign “Thud 71.” Their mission was a routine instrument training flight, making instrument approaches and departures at NAS Point Mugu on the southern California coast, then return to George AFB.

The weather surrounding Point Mugu was poor, with heavy clouds, rain and fog. Thud 71 made an instrument approach to the airfield and then initiated a missed approach, a normal procedure for a training flight. However, while climbing out, the pilot, Major Fulop, radioed Mugu Approach Control that he had a problem and requested an immediate return to George AFB. His request was approved.

Approach Control then lost the fighter bomber’s radar transponder signal. Fulop declared an emergency, and requested an immediate return to Point Mugu for landing. He stated that the altimeter had failed and that he was trying to climb above the clouds.

Moments later, witnesses in Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park saw the F-105 diving out of the overcast. Major Fulop initiated the ejection sequence for the Electronics Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Stone, in the back seat. Stone was ejected and parachuted to safety. He suffered a broken arm.

The witnesses said that the pilot was obviously steering the Thunderchief away from homes surrounding the open space of Wildwood Regional Park. Thud 71 crashed on the west side of Hill Canyon. The airplane exploded on impact and Major Fulop was killed.

The crash site is less than two miles (three kilometers) from where I am now sitting.

Major Charles T. Fulop, United States Air Force, with his Republic F-105G Thunderchief at George Air Force Base, california.
Major Charles Thomas Fulop, United States Air Force, 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, with a Republic F-105G Wild Weasel III at George Air Force Base, California. (www.thexhunters.com)

Charles Thomas Fulop was born 6 October 1946 at Barberton, Ohio. He was the second son of Louis James Fulop and Elizabeth Theresa Ittes Fulop. He graduated from Copley High School in Akron, Ohio. He then attended Miami University, Oxford,  where he was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity, graduating in 1968.

Fulop joined the United States Air Force, 14 May 1969. He was trained as a B-52 navigator. Later selected for flight training, Captain Fulop was assigned to Class 73-06 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Del Rio, Texas. He was an Outstanding Graduate and was awarded his pilot’s wings, 26 February 1973. Captain Fulop was then assigned to a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II squadron at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida.

On 20 December 1969, Charles Fulop married Miss Cheryl P. Lewis at Sacramento, California. They would have two daughters, Michelle and Kelley.

Major Fulop was buried in the Veteran’s Court at Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Sacramento, California.

Republic F-105G Thunderchief 63-9320 Wild Weasel at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This is the sister ship of Thud 71. (U.S. Air Force)

The F-105 was the largest single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft in history. It was designed as a Mach 2+ tactical nuclear strike aircraft and fighter-bomber. The fuselage of the F-105B incorporated the “area rule” which gave the Thunderchief its characteristic “wasp waist” shape. The F-105F was a two-place variant, flown by a pilot and a weapons system operator. Its high speed, low radar cross-section, and heavy bomb load capacity made it a good candidate for the “Wild Weasel” mission: locating and attacking enemy radar and surface-to-air missile installations.

The F-105F/G Thunderchief was 67 feet (20.422 meters) long with a wingspan of 34 feet, 11 inches (10.643 meters) and overall height of 20 feet, 2 inches (6.147 meters). Its wings were swept 45° at 25% chord. The angle of incidence was 0° and there was no twist. The wings had 3° 30′ anhedral. The total wing area was 385 square feet (35.8 square meters). Modified to the Wild Weasel III configuration, it had an empty weight of 31,279 pounds (14,188 kilograms), and a maximum takeoff weight of 54,580 pounds (24,757 kilograms).

Republic F-105G Wild Weasel III 63-8320, sister ship of Major Fulop’s 63-8321. (U.S. Air Force)

The Thunderchief was powered by one Pratt & Whitney J75-P-19W engine. The J75 is a two-spool axial-flow afterburning turbojet with water injection. It has a 15-stage compressor section (8 low- and and 7 high-pressure stages) and 3-stage turbine section (1 high- and 2 low-pressure stages.) The J75-P-19W is rated at 14,300 pounds of thrust (63.61 kilonewtons), continuous power; 16,100 pounds (71.62 kilonewtons), Military Power (30-minute limit); and Maximum Power rating of 24,500 pounds (108.98 kilonewtons) with afterburner (15-minute limit). The engine could produce 26,500 pounds of thrust (117.88 kilonewtons) with water injection, for takeoff. The J75-P-19W is 21 feet, 7.3 inches (6.586 meters) long, 3 feet, 7.0 inches (1.092 meters) in diameter, and weighs 5,960 pounds (2,703 kilograms).

The F-105G Wild Weasel III had a cruising speed of 514 knots (592 miles per hour/952 kilometers per hour). Its maximum speed was 681 knots at Sea Level—0.78 Mach—and  723 knots (832 miles per hour/1,339 kilometers per hour) at 36,000 feet (10,973 meters)—Mach 1.23. It could climb to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) in 28.0 minutes. The F-105G’s combat ceiling was 43,900 feet (13,381 meters), and it had a combat radius of 391 nautical miles (450 statute miles/724 kilometers). The maximum ferry range, with external fuel tanks, was 1,623 nautical miles (1,868 statute miles/3,006 kilometers).

A Republic F-105G Wild Weasel III, serial number 62-4423, of the 6010th Wild Weasel Squadron, takes of from Korat Royal Thai Air Base, circa 1971. The modified Thunderchief is armed with an AGM-45 Shrike on the outboard hardpoint, and an AGM-78 Standard HARM on the right inboard hardpoint. (U.S. Air Force)

The Wild Weasel III was armed with one M61A1 Vulcan 20 mm six-barrel rotary cannon with 581 rounds of ammunition, one AGM-78 Standard High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM),  and two AGM-45A Shrike anti-radiation missiles.

65 F-105Fs were converted to the F-105G Wild Weasel III configuration. Republic Aviation Corporation built 833 F-105 Thunderchief fighter bombers at its Farmingdale, New York, factory. 334 of them were lost in combat during the Vietnam War.

Thud 71’s sister ship, Republic F-105G Thunderchief 63-8320, shot down three enemy MiG fighters. It is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief (converted to F-105G Wild Weasel III) 63-8320 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB. (U.S. Air Force)
Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief (converted to F-105G Wild Weasel III) 63-8320 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2021, Bryan R. Swopes

2 March 1969

Aérospatiale Concorde 001 first flight, at Toulouse, 2 March 1969, test pilot André Edouard Turcat.
Aérospatiale Concorde 001 first flight, at Toulouse, 2 March 1969, test pilot André Edouard Turcat.

2 March 1969: Just three weeks after the prototype Boeing 747, City of Everett, made its first flight at Seattle, Washington, the first supersonic airliner prototype, Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde Aircraft 001, registration F-WTSS, made its first flight, taking off from Runway 33 at the Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac, Toulouse, France.

On the flight deck were André Édouard Marcel Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard.

The flight lasted 27 minutes. Throughout the flight, the “droop nose” and landing gear remained lowered.

Concorde was the only commercial airliner capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.

The flight test crew of Concorde 001. Left to right, Andre Edouard Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)
The flight test crew of Concorde 001. Left to right, André Edouard Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test & Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

There were two Concorde prototypes (the British Aerospace Corporation built Concorde 002) followed by two pre-production developmental aircraft and sixteen production airliners.

Concorde 001 is 51.80 meters (169 feet, 11.4 inches) long, with a wingspan of 23.80 meters (78 feet, 1 inch). Its fuselage has a maximum height of 3.32 meters (10 feet, 10.7 inches) and maximum width of 2.88 meters (9 feet, 5.4 inches) max internal height 1.96 m (6 feet, 5.2 inches). The prototype’s empty weight is 78,700 kilograms (173,504 pounds), and the maximum takeoff weight is 185,000 kilograms (407,855 pounds). (Pre-production and production Concorde weights and dimensions vary.)

The Concorde is powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk.610 engines. The Mk. 610 is a two-spool, axial-flow turbojet with afterburner. The compressor section as 14 stages (7 low- and 7 high-pressure stages). Two-stage turbine has 1 high- and 1 low-pressure stage. The engine has a maximum continuous power rating of 28,800 pounds of thrust (128.11 kilonewtons). It is rated at 37,080 pounds (164.94 kilonewtons) for takeoff (5 minute limit). During takeoff, the afterburners produce approximately 20% of the total thrust. The Olympus 593 Mk.613 is 1.212 meters (3.976378 feet) in diameter, 4.039 meters (13.251312 feet)long, and weighs 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).

Production Concordes were certified for a maximum operating cruise speed of Mach 2.04, and a maximum operating altitude of 60,000 feet (18.288 meters). The maximum range 3,900 was nautical miles (4,488 statute miles/7,223 kilometers).

Concorde 001 made 397 flight during flight testing. It accumulated a total of 812 hours, 19 minutes of flight time, of which 254 hours, 49 minutes were supersonic.

Today, Concorde 001 is displayed at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget.

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 001, F-WTSS. (Aérospatiale)
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 001, F-WTSS. (Aérospatiale)

André Édouard Marcel Turcat was born 23 October 1921 at Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. André was the son of Emile Gaston Turcat and Claire Victoria Jeane Marie Françoise Fleury Turcat. His uncle, Léon Turcat, was co-founder of Ateliers de Construction d’Automobiles Turcat-Méry SA, a manufactuers of grand prix race cars. He was educated at l’École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris.


During World War II, Turcat served in the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, (the  Free French Air Force).

On the day that World War II ended in Europe, 8 May 1945, André Turcat married Mlle Elisabeth Marie (“Julie”) Borelli in Marseille. They would have four children. One, a daughter, died in infancy.

Andre Turcat remained in the Armée de l’air after the war. He flew the Douglas C-47 Skytrain during the First Indochina War. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre des théâtres d’opérations extérieures.

In 1950, Turcat was admitted to the École du personnel navigant d’essais et de réception (EPNER), the test pilot school at Brétigny-sur-Orge, France. He served as director of EPNER, 1952–53.

In 1954, Major Turcat resigned from the Armée de l’air and became the chief test pilot at Société Française d’Etude et de Construction de Matériel Aéronautiques Spéciaux (SFECMAS) (later, Nord-Aviation), flight-testing the Nord 1500 Griffon. He made the first flight of the Nord 1500-01 Griffon, 20 September 1955. He flew the Griffon II, a mixed-propulsion aircraft powered by a turbojet and a ramjet engine, beginning with its first flight, 23 January 1957.

Flying a Griffon, Turcat set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Time to Altitude, 16 February 1957: 6,000 meters, 1:17.05;¹ 9,000 meters, 1:33.75;² and 12,000 meters, 2:17.70.³

Turcat reached Mach 2.19 with the Griffon II, for which he was awarded the Harmon Trophy for 1958. The trophy was presented by Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States.

On 25 February 1959, Turcat flew the Griffon II to set an FAI World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 100 Kilometers, with an average speed of 1,643.00 kilometers per hour (1.015.32 miles per hour).⁴ The Académie des Sports awarded him its Prix Robert Peugeot for the greatest feat accomplished by French athletes in motorsports.

André Edouard Marcel Turcat (fifth from right) with the Nord 1500-02 Griffon, circa January 1957

Turcat joined Sud-Aviation as chief pilot for the Concorde.

Turcat and British Aerospace chief test pilot Ernest Brian Trubshaw, C.B.E., M.V.O., shared the 1970 Harmon Trophy, and in 1971, the Iven C. Kincheloe Award of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Iven C. Kincheloe Award for their outstanding professional accomplishments in flight testing.

André Turcat and Brian Trubshaw.

After 740 flight hours in Concorde, Andre Turcat retired from Aérospatiale, 31 March 1976. He never flew an airplane again.

As a politician, M. Turcat served as deputy mayor of Toulouse, 1971–77; and as a member of the European Parliament, 1980–81.

In 1983, Turcat founded l’Académie nationale de l’air et de l’espace (ANAE) and served as its first president.

In 1990 Turcat earned a doctorate degree in the study of Christian art. He was the author of Pilote d’essais (Ciels du monde t.1); Concorde: Essais d’hier, betailles d’aujourd’hui, 30 and de réve; Les plus beaux textes de la Bible; Moi, Etienne Jamet, alias Esteban Jamete: Sculpteur français de la Renaissance en Espagne comdamné par l’Inquisition; and Une épopeé française.

During his aviation career, Turcat flew more than 6,500 hours in 110 different aircraft. He had been awarded the Médaille de l’Aéronautique. The United Kingdom had appointed him Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). In 2005 Andre Turcat was named Grand Officier Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.

André Édouard Marcel Turcat died at his home in Aix-en-Provence, 3 January 2016 at the age of 94 years.

André Édouard Marcel Turcat (FlightGlobal)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8611

² FAI Record File Number 8612

³ FAI Record File Number 8613

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

26 February–2 March 1949: B-50 Lucky Lady II

Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010, Lucky Lady II, lands at Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth Texas, at 10:31 a.m., 2 March 1949. (LIFE Magazine)
Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010, Lucky Lady II, lands at Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth Texas, at 10:31 a.m., 2 March 1949. (LIFE Magazine)

26 February–2 March 1949: A Boeing B-50A Superfortress, Air Force serial number 46-010, named Lucky Lady II, flew from Carswell Air Force Base, Fort Worth, Texas, and with inflight refueling, circumnavigated the Earth non-stop, landing back at Carswell after 94 hours, 1 minute. The bomber had traveled 23,452 miles (37,742 kilometers).

Lucky Lady II was the backup aircraft for this flight, but became primary when the first B-50, Global Queen, had to abort with engine problems. It was a standard production B-50A-5-BO (originally designated B-29D) with the exception of an additional fuel tank mounted in its bomb bay.

The aircraft commander was Captain James G. Gallagher, with 1st Lieutenant  Arthur M. Neal as second pilot. Captain James H. Morris was the copilot. In addition to the three pilots, the flight was double-crewed, with each man being relieved at 4-to-6 hour intervals. The navigators were  Captain Glenn E. Hacker and 1st Lieutenant Earl L. Rigor, and the radar operators were 1st Lieutenant Ronald B. Bonner and 1st Lieutenant William F. Caffrey. Captain David B. Parmalee was project officer for this flight and flew as chief flight engineer, with flight engineers Technical Sergeant Virgil L. Young and Staff Sergeant Robert G. Davis. Technical Sergeant Burgess C. Cantrell and Staff Sergeant Robert R. McLeroy were the radio operators. Gunners were Technical Sergeant Melvin G. Davis and Staff Sergeant Donald G. Traugh Jr.

Four inflight refuelings were required using the looped hose method. Two KB-29M tankers of the 43d Air Refueling Squadron were placed at air bases along the Lucky Lady II‘s route, at the Azores, Saudi Arabia, the Philippine Islands and Hawaiian Islands. The KB-29 flew above the B-50 and lowered a cable and drogue. This was captured by equipment on the bomber and then reeled in, bringing along with it a refueling hose. The hose was attached to the B-50’s refueling manifold and then fuel was transferred from the tanker to the bomber’s tanks by gravity flow.

Each refueling occurred during daylight, but weather made several transfers difficult. One of the two tankers from Clark Field in The Philippines, 45-21705, crashed in bad weather when returning to base, killing the entire 9-man crew.

A Boeing KB-29M tanker refuels B-50A Superfortress Lucky Lady II during its around-the-world-flight, February–March 1949. (U.S. Air Force)
A Boeing KB-29M tanker refuels B-50A Superfortress Lucky Lady II, 46-010. This photograph, usually identified as have been taken during the around-the-world flight, was not. Note the vertical tail does not have the diamond squadron mark that the airplane displayed during that flight. (U.S. Air Force)

On their arrival at Carswell, the crew of Lucky Lady II was met by Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington, Jr., General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Roger M. Ramey, commanding 8th Air Force, and Lieutenant General Curtis E. LeMay, Strategic Air Command. Each member of the crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. They also were awarded the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the year.

The arrival of Lucky Lady II and its crew was met by the Secretary of the Air Force. (LIFE Magazine)
The arrival of Lucky Lady II and its crew at Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, Texas, was observed by the senior civilian and military members of the United States Air Force.. (LIFE Magazine)
Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010, now named "KENSMEN," circa 1950. (U.S. Air Force)
Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010, circa 1950. (U.S. Air Force)

At 11:25 a.m., 13 August 1950, B-50A 46-010, under the command of  Captain Warren E. Griffin, was on a maintenance test flight and returning to its base, Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona  when all four engines failed. Unable to reach the runways, Captain Griffin landed in the desert approximately two miles southeast. Though the landing gear were down, the bomber was severely damaged with all four propellers bent, the belly dented and its tail breaking off. The 11-man crew were uninjured except for the bombardier, 1st Lieutenant Theodore Hastings, who was scratched by cactus which entered the cockpit through the broken Plexiglas nose.

The Superfortress was damaged beyond economical repair and was stricken from the Air Force inventory (“written off”). The unrestored fuselage of Lucky Lady II is at the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California.

The unrestored fuselage of Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010 at Planes of Fame, Chino, California. (Stefan Semerdjiev)
The unrestored fuselage of Boeing B-50A-5-BO Superfortress 46-010 at Planes of Fame, Chino, California, 2002. (Stefan Semerdjiev)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes